To be completely honest, the two final world cup races in Finland did not go amazingly well, but as I was discussing in my previous post, this was somewhat expected. After the 50km, I felt a similar kind of fatigue to what I had experienced after the tour, so as was planned, I took the next few days quite easy trying to put myself in recovery mode. Now this is sounding boring already as I have used these same lines so many times throughout my posts, but that is probably the easiest way to describe just how my racing season this year has unfolded! When I look back and see how many races I have done, and the time spent travelling from race to race, it has been far more intense than anything I have ever tried to do in the past. In fact, now that I think about it, from the first World Cup in Gallivare on the 20th of November, there have only been two weekends that I have had free from racing. There is therefore no wonder why I feel as though I haven’t trained properly in months. In a way however, this is exactly what I had planned to encounter in this season and this has really been an eye opening experience as to what this sport is actually like at this top end and what I should be expecting in future seasons. Read more
The Oslo World Champs have finally drawn to a close and what an event it has been. To properly describe just how impressive these World Championships were would take more than words. It was undoubtedly the biggest and most watched Nordic event of the last decade and I would be very surprised if there will ever be another event that even comes close to this experience in my future skiing career.
Overall I was slightly disappointed with my performances over these championships. Not that my results were disastrous, however I certainly didn’t show the same form that I had earlier in the season or at the start of last season. The relay was probably the most disappointing race of the year. Simbo, Ewan and I all had shockers and I can confirm that I haven’t skied that badly in a very long time. So unfortunately we let Mark down again who didn’t get to even start his leg as we were lapped before he even got a chance to get started (This is the 3rd time this has happen to Mark!) Despite all of this, the crowd was something very special – despite being slightly smaller than the 50km which peaked at around 110,000, they were all giving us some enormous roars of support. On one section of the course a 5000+ spectator strong ‘Watson’ chant got going and this was something I had never thought I would experience in my whole skiing career. Read more
Three races in four days – this is feeling very familiar! Yesterday was the 15km classic and tough waxing conditions brought on by very strange snow conditions made this a tough event. Unfortunately, I made a bit of a mistake with the ski selection. I went light on with the grip wax to avoid the dragging which I experienced in the 30km pursuit, and as a result I really had to work hard to get the skis to grip properly. Additionally, the ski base did not seem to be the pick for the day so I found myself with slow skis and limited grip. As I mentioned in my last post, the plan was to go out easy and work into a solid pace, however this proved very difficult to do on this course with long steep climbs. So in order to stay in the tracks, going easy was not an option. I therefore found myself right on my limit at the top of the climb and that’s the way it stayed for the remainder of the race! It was definitely not my best of performances this season and so I am slightly disappointed with the result. I was 66th finisher from 115 starters with higher FIS points (and percentage back) than my average with 119pts. Ben also indicated he had a tough race and was 1min 10sec up on me in 59th. Ewan showed more good classic form taking 67th giving me a good old poke in the back only 2s behind.
Today, Ben and I were selected for the Classic Team Sprint which was a real relief for me as I was able to put some of the improvements that I have made to my sprinting to full use. For those who are unaware, in this event there are national teams consisting of two men. The first skier does one 1.5km sprint loop, then tags off to their team mate and this continues until each athlete has done 3 laps. So in short it is three sprints in a row with a 1:1 work to rest. Today, both Ben and I had great skis and this contributed to a good result. Ben was definitely the strong leg of the team, having an awesome 2nd leg (he actually had the fasted lap time for that semi’s 2nd leg), putting us in front of quite a few nations including Japan and Slovenia. Japan skied strong on the last few legs, however Ben managed to give us a bit of a lead on the Slovenian’s going into my last (and the finishing) leg. I managed to hold him off going up the major climb, however by that stage I had pretty well completely drowned my arms and legs with lactic-acid. Despite trying to convince myself I could out double pole him, he stepped it up a gear and which I was completely un-capable of thus convincing me otherwise! Although it would have been good to have kept ahead of Slovenia, 19th out of 25 national teams was a good result ahead of some bigger skier nations such as Ukraine, but most importantly ahead of the Brits and New Zealand! Switzerland and Poland were also not far ahead so it was great performance.
I would also like to congratulate the Canadian boys today who won the Gold medal! Both Devon Kershaw and Alex Harvey have shown incredible form this season and it was such a well-deserved victory. From short readings, (so I hope this is correct), they are the first Canadian World Champions for cross country skiing so that gives you some perspective on just how special this result really is! Great effort and awesome to see.
Once again the crowds were incredible, especially for the 15km where large groups of supporters were out there chanting ‘Watson’ and even though its corny-er than the cob itself, it was an experience that I will never forget. Next up we have the Friday’s Relay where I will take on the 3rd (freestyle) leg, then the 50km freestyle on Sunday where the crowds are expected to be at their peak. Nothing gets better than this!
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